9 ways to immerse yourself in Colombian culture while working in Colombia
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Once you have decided to live and begin working in Colombia, it’s time to make the most of your opportunity. While working in Colombia as an English teacher, or in another job, it’s easy to find comfort within your neighbourhood and the expat community, but is this how you want to spend your time in another country?
Here are 9 things you should do to immerse yourself in Colombian culture and make the most of your time working in Colombia.
1. Before you embark on your journey set yourself some goals:
Before starting your adventure working in Colombia, it’s a good idea to create a list of goals or things you want to achieve whilst you’re there. Do you want to gain a specific level of Spanish, improve your skills, visit certain places in the country or create a network of Colombian friends? Make a list and decide what you wish to gain from your working experience and make this your starting point. This list will help to bring your goals and aspirations to the forefront of your mind while working in Colombia.
2. Learn how to make a local dish:
Learning how to make a local dish is a great way to experience and immerse yourself in Colombian culture while working in Colombia. Local food allows you to see how people cook and what they cook within the country; cooking and tasting local food and produce helps you to live more like a local. There are a number of food tours and cooking classes available around the country which will teach you different techniques to create delicious Colombian cuisine. When you go back home, after your time working in Colombia is over, you can amaze your friends and family with your new skills.
3. Learn the language:
While working in Colombia you can have two very different experiences: if you have a good grasp of Spanish you will get more out of your experience than if you have no knowledge of the language. It’s a good idea to begin learning Spanish before embarking on your trip as it will help you to make your way around. It is also possible to take Spanish classes whilst you’re in Colombia; this will help you to learn the vocabulary you need to get the most out of your trip.
4. Interact with the locals:
Moving to another country can be scary but while working in Colombia you will have opportunities to interact with both Colombians and other expats working in the city. While it’s good to make friends with other people from around the world, it’s also great to be friends with Colombians. Colombians are friendly people who enjoy socialising and interacting with new people.
5. Join a club, sports team or take up a new hobby:
Joining a club, sports team or even a gym will help you to meet new people while working in Colombia. In addition to interacting with locals, it will give you a new activity to participate in, a new social circle and a way to practice Spanish. Sporting activities such as cycling, running and gym classes are popular in the country and park areas are often filled with weekly yoga sessions and running clubs. These activities can be a great way to get out of the house, meet people and have fun.
6. Travel around the country:
Colombia has around 20 bank holidays, long weekends and other events throughout the year which are ideal times to travel around the country. While working in Colombia make time to travel to a new city, the countryside, the Caribbean or Pacific coast, or even the Amazon rainforest. The country is filled with unique landscapes, and great experiences and opportunities, so go and travel, meet new people and discover the magic of Colombia.
7. Visit the local markets:
There is no better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than by visiting a local market. Colombian markets can be crazy, lively and unique places to visit. Colombian markets range from food markets to artisan markets and many more. While working in Colombia you can find anything and everything in a market. Fresh produce is readily available and it can be cheaper than purchasing it from a store. You can also buy cheap clothes, household items, and souvenirs. Many markets also have food stalls that are a great place to buy lunch, dinner or snacks.
8. Find a local café:
Local cafes and coffee shops can be great places to chill, take in your surroundings and of course enjoy great coffee (there are very few places in the world that serve better coffee). Coffee is big business in Colombia due to exports and local farms produce specialty coffee all over the country. Coffee is available all around the country in cafes, on street corners and even on coffee tours. Cafes provide a great working environment, and place to relax and watch the world go past.
9. Take pictures:
Colombia is a picturesque country with beautiful landscapes around every corner. While working in Colombia you should take as many pictures as you can; once you return home these pictures will be triggers for memories and times that you will remember forever. Colombian towns and cities are filled with colour, street art and unique sights which your friends back home would love to see.
Written by: Anny Wooldridge